Like many of you, I think of food often. After finishing breakfast even, I’m already considering lunch and dinner options and the snacks in between. Weird, I know. But a good problem to have because the act of enjoying something is as much about anticipation as it is the actual doing.
But there’s something else that increases our enjoyment of food: the element of surprise. And few things surprise our palettes more than being in foreign territory—a new town, a different state, a nation abroad. The very act of travel forces us to reconsider the routine meals we usually eat at home.
When that happens, we often discover new favorites to bring home. Here are some notable staples I discovered on recent travels that have deepened my relationship with food.
I get it. Crepes are soooo yesterday. Some would even say inferior to pancakes. But after dining in an off-district but well-rated creperie in Paris several years ago, my eyes were opened. I tried many different varieties on that trip and even enjoyed street crepes by the Eiffel Tower. But after being advised by a local chief as to the best way to eat one, I always return a simple hazelnut spread and sliced banana filling. Mmmm.
I enjoyed numerous foodstuff while visiting South Africa last year. But rusks were undoubtedly my favorite. Essentially twice-baked breadstick cookies traditionally dunked in tea or coffee, they are difficult, if not impossible, to find in America. But my mouth waters just thinking about them whenever I drink Dilmah peppermint tea, also discovered while traveling there.
I expected the deepest, bluest and arguably prettiest lake in the world upon visiting Crater Lake in Oregon two years ago. But I didn’t expect a newfound love of green chili quesadillas after eating my first from the Crater Lake Lodge that trip. Maybe it was just the incredible view. Maybe I was just abnormally hungry after a long hike. Nevertheless, these cheesy, spicy and black bean lined tortillas have become transcendent for me. I make them frequently at home.
I haven’t visited the Netherlands yet, which is where this sugary edible originates. Rather, I was on a recent United Airlines flight the first time I tried one. For the record, this tasty treat is the best free snack you can find in the air. So much so that whenever I’m on land, I visit boutique bakeries on the reg in search of them, since I don’t own the pizzelle press required to make them at home. (Note to self: order pizzelle from Amazon.)
Newfoundland is a sweet, sweet place. And their national jam made from bakeapple (aka cloudberries) is worth writing home about. Goes well on toast, ice cream, in mixed drinks or anything else that needs a citrusy, raspberry-y, high altitude shot of awesome. To this day, I still curse airport security for confiscating $50 worth of bakeapple smuggle.
Off the Grid columnist Blake Snow writes epic stories for fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies. Follow him on Twitter.